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Bucs ready to help grieving family of kicker

Arena league kicker Jay Taylor, hitting a 50-yarder for the Bucs in 2004, may be an option if Matt Bryant sits out.

BILL SERNE | Times (2004)

Arena league kicker Jay Taylor, hitting a 50-yarder for the Bucs in 2004, may be an option if Matt Bryant sits out.

TAMPA — The Bucs' support of Matt Bryant will include buttressing his decision on whether to kick Sunday against the Packers.

But as the players returned to work Thursday, their focus was on a grieving Bryant and his wife, Melissa, whose 3-month-old son, Matthew Tryson, died Wednesday.

"We will have a contingency plan if Matt can't kick," said coach Jon Gruden, whose team had not signed another placekicker. "But right now, I don't feel like talking about it because we're still in support of our guy. If we have to deal with signing a kicker, we will. Right now, it's not part of our plan."

Punter Josh Bidwell, who holds on placekicks, said he would not be surprised if Bryant played Sunday.

"It's hard to say. He's got the free rein obviously by the team to do what he needs to do to heal," Bidwell said. "I'll be honest with you, I wouldn't be surprised to see him try to get out there, but I wouldn't fault him in any way if he just couldn't be out there. Something like this would take time for a lot of people. I'm proud of him either way.

"He's doing a great job, responding well and embracing the love and support we're giving him, and we'll certainly do that in this decision that he'll eventually make here with the game."

Melissa, making the rounds to wake up children Daniel, Jacob, Joshua, Madison and Tre for school Wednesday found Matthew Tryson not breathing. The cause of death is pending, but it is not considered suspicious, said Dick Bailey of the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office.

The Bryants have been involved in charitable work to benefit children. Tre, who turns 2 on Monday, spent three weeks in an incubator at St. Joseph's Women's Hospital in Tampa, weighing only 3 pounds, 10 ounces at birth.

For years they have tried to help grieving parents deal with illness and loss. Now, they are being embraced.

"Melissa made a comment that I appreciated yesterday," Bidwell said. "She said, 'It's surreal to be in this situation that we're in right now because we've tried to help so many other people deal with their own tragedies.' I think that said a lot because she still appreciates the help that people are giving to them as much as they've given to others.

"He's remarkable, and so is Melissa. Not only do they care for their own family, but it's well-known what they've done in the community with kids and they don't do that for any other reason except they just care. … It's a very remarkable family. It flies under the radar, and people will see that more now than ever."

While the Bucs have not discussed contingency plans at kicker, one possibility is Jay Taylor, who kicks for the Arena Football League's Orlando Predators, coached by Jay Gruden. Taylor kicked briefly for the Bucs in 2005.

For now, the only job Bidwell and his teammates are focused on regarding Bryant is helping the family through the tragedy.

"We do have a job to do, and we're going to be ready to do that," he said. "But we do know what's important in life, and in this situation that's taking care of Matt and his family and making sure they get through this."

Bucs ready to help grieving family of kicker 09/25/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 29, 2008 3:47pm]
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